Auckland developer Douglas Developments Ltd can go ahead with an “unorthodox” 17-lot farm park subdivision of 185 Jolly Rd, near Tarras.

The development does not comply with Central Otago district plan minimum lot size rules and resource consent is conditional on no further subdivision.

Farm park subdivisions have been created in the Queenstown Lakes district, but this appears to be the first in the Central Otago district, where rural subdivision rules provide for an average lot size of 8ha.

Developer Lloyd Morris of Auckland did not respond to questions about when he hoped to begin the project before The News publication deadline.

The Central Otago District Council hearings panel of chairman Neil Gillespie and councillors Martin McPherson and Stephen Jeffery, said “the very nature and form of this development sets it apart from other rural subdivisions which have previously gone before the panel”.

They agreed the subdivision was intended to reduce potential fragmentation of rural land and encourage cohesive management of productive soil and rejected the Otago Regional Council’s call for a plan change.

“While an unorthodox approach within Central Otago, the proposal does not exceed the anticipated residential carrying capacity of the land and provides for cohesive productive management of the balance lot and, therefore, does not necessitate a plan change approach,” the panel said.

The Jolly Rd subdivision comprises one 5503sqm lot, 15 lots ranging between 1735sqm to 1914sqm, and a jointly-owned farm block of 129ha.

Council consultant planner Kirstyn Lindsay said the clustered development would enable a more cohesive and productive use of the remaining 129ha than if the land was split into 16, 8ha blocks.

The application was approved on February 21 after a notified hearing on February 8.

The Otago Regional Council opposed the subdivision. It had concerns about the residential scale and density of development in a rural area, precedents for future development, loss of productive soils, reverse sensitivity issues and lack of functional need for development of that particular piece of land.

Neighbouring property owner Greenlight Land Ltd supported the development, but raised reverse sensitivity issues, and sought a no-complaints covenant in relation to its own subdivision, which is still in the consent process.

Hokonui Runanga opposed the development, but said if it was granted, conditions should include no further subdivision and groundwater protection.

The panel said reverse sensitivity effects could be managed so that they were no more than minor.

However it was uncomfortable with rainwater being the primary water source and imposed a condition for a secure, reliable potable water source that could be supplemented by rain water if the developer desired.

The panel said individual wastewater systems, with secondary treatment, could serve the 16 lots without adverse environmental effects.

The developer offered roading, boundary setback and no-complaints conditions.

It dropped a proposal to build a community facility.